Periconceptional Seafood Intake and Fetal Growth

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2015 Sep;29(5):376-87. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12205. Epub 2015 Jul 3.


Background: Previous reports of associations of maternal seafood intake with fetal growth were inconsistent. Further, little is known whether associations differ across seafood subtypes or fetal growth indices.

Methods: Among 3141 participants of the Omega study, a pregnancy cohort study, we investigated associations of periconceptional shell, lean, and fatty fish intake with fetal growth indices. We categorised food frequency questionnaire reported seafood intake into frequencies of: <0.2 servings/month, 0.2 servings/month -<0.5 servings/week, 0.5-1 servings/week, and >1 servings/week. We abstracted birthweight, birth length, and head circumference from medical records. Using generalised linear models with a log link, the Poisson family, and robust standard errors, we estimated relative risks and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for low birthweight (LBW, <2500 g) and linear regression models to estimate mean differences for continuous fetal growth indices across seafood intake categories.

Results: Medians (interquartile range) of shell, lean, and fatty fish intake were 0.3 (0-0.9), 0.5 (0-1.0), and 0.5 (0.1-1.0) servings/week, respectively. Lean fish intake of >1 servings/week (vs. <0.2 servings/month) was associated with a 2.2-fold higher risk of LBW (95% CI 1.2, 4.1). Shellfish intake of >1 servings/week (vs. <0.2 servings/month) was associated with a 0.6 kg/m(3) higher mean ponderal index (95% CI 0.0, 1.2 kg/m(3) ). There was no evidence for associations of total seafood or seafood subtype intake with other fetal growth indices.

Conclusions: Higher intakes of lean fish and shellfish were associated with a higher risk of LBW and higher mean ponderal index, respectively. Findings highlight the importance of considerations of seafood subtype in similar investigations.

Keywords: birth weight; fetal growth; lean fish; omega 3 fatty acids; ponderal index; seafood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet Records
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Female
  • Fetal Development
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / etiology*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seafood* / adverse effects
  • Shellfish* / adverse effects


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3